Many, many years ago, when I was an adventurous young thang, I worked one summer in Rajgarh, a small town in the Indian Himalayas. I spent a lot of time helping a social services organization conduct field research in woman's health practices. I also ate a lot of goat. In the absence of beef, pork and other animal fare, I came to appreciate this meat for its moist texture and chameleon-like properties, specifically, its ability to blend in with different sauces, rubs and dressings. Houston fortunately provides ample opportunity for me to get my goat. Here are five of H-town's noteworthy mutton menu items:
5. Karahi Goat (Savoy). We all know plain-jane settings often belie incredible food offerings, and Savoy is no exception. The Karahi Goat features barely-on-the bone mutton mixed with what tastes like 20-odd different spices that somehow function like a symphony. And while the sauce verges on the greasy side, extra naan is all you need to make sure you mop up every last delicious oily bit.
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4. Goat Pepper Soup (Finger Licking). Tripe and goat may seem like odd bedfellows, but that's par for the course in Nigerian cuisine, where offal is far from awful thanks to slow and low cooking practices and careful seasoning. As others have noted, goat pepper soup can be quite a heated affair; keep some fufu and a glass of (goat?) milk on hand.
3. Korean Braised Goat & Dumplings (Underbelly). Chosen by Katharine Shilcutt as #1 on her list of 100 Favorite Dishes for very, very good reason. The shredded goat easily earns raves for its supple mouth-feel and elegant balance of seasoning, and the "dumplings" are surprisingly neither afterthought nor mere backdrop to the meat. These oblong puffs of dough are slightly pillowy but not so soft that they become unpleasantly saturated in sauce.
2. Goat Curry (Cool Runnings Jamaica Grill). Goats may be rather lean, scrawny creatures, but they should make for a dish that sticks to your bones. Cool Runnings' curry boasts subtle notes of coconut and stronger ones of garlic as well as some hefty chunks of mutton. This composition, in combination with the generous portions that include white rice and plantains, makes it a challenge to finish the whole platter and certainly inadvisable should you need to operate heavy machinery afterwards.
1. Goat Brains (Indika) Sure, brains may not be the first choice in animal organs to consume, but if you subscribe to the saying "You are what you eat," then why not feast on an animal's neurological center? I for one would love to be able to think like a goat, or at least channel its ability to amble along gracefully at great heights. The spongy texture of these brains provides a fitting basis for a ghee-heavy and tomato-forward masala sauce. Hannibal Lecter could probably tell he was eating brains, but you won't.